Posted by: mikenicholsblog | June 29, 2014

in the lonely place

I believe you would agree that we live in a distracted world. Technology and the general pace of life have us moving ever faster with much less aptitude for concentration and focus. Agreeing with the problem and actually addressing how it affects us personally are two very different things.  In 2011, the giant telecom company Nokia issued the results of a study that, among other things, stated the average mobile phone user accessed his/her phone an average of 150 times per day! During 2012, T- Mobile verified that study for users in the United States.  Excluding the hours that we sleep, these studies tell us that we are accessing our phones every 6.4 minutes. I would submit that for the vast majority of younger users, the usage is much greater.  Phone calls, texting, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the entirety of the internet are all at our finger tips.  I think we have all observed or have fallen victim to unfortunate affects of having such easy and immediate access.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone.  But I am increasingly concerned that our instant communication opportunities are drowning out the “still small voice” within us.

Looking at the life of Christ tends to lend perspective to all our excuses about the pace and chaos of life. You’ve most certainly read how Jesus would steal away to lonely places to spend time the Father. We saw it just yesterday in our daily reading passage in Luke where the story is told of Jesus healing a man with leprosy.

But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of His power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear Him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
Luke 5:15-16 (NLT)

Jesus purposefully removed Himself from the chaos of crowds, stealing away to quiet places in order to talk with the Father.  I wonder how Jesus would have handled an iPhone?  And I wonder what our relationship with the Father would be if we made an intentional effort to more often find quiet places to talk with Him? David Jeremiah sums up the need well in his July 2014 Turning Points devotional …

“For it is in the silent moments of life that we are able to hear God most clearly.”

Is there too much distraction, too few quiet moments and too little assurance that you are hearing God clearly in your life right now?  How many voices are competing for your attention, and how often do you feel like you are hearing that one True voice? The answers to those questions and the answer to the real problem are obvious.  We must intentionally seek quiet and communicate with God in those “places.”

In a great work from many years ago, Henri Nouwen provides great insight from the life of Christ. Read the words carefully if you are serious about hearing God and finding your own quiet places.

In the lonely place, Jesus finds the courage to follow God’s will and not his own; to speak God’s words and not his own, to do God’s work and not his own…. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place, our lives are in danger. Somewhere we know that without silence, words lose their meaning, that without listening, speaking no longer heals, that without distance, closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place (solitude), our actions quickly become empty gestures. The careful balance between silence and words, withdrawal and involvement, distance and closeness, solitude and community, forms the basis of the Christian life and should be the subject of our most personal attention…
(an excerpt from Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit by Henri J. M. Nouwen)

I’ll venture a guess that no one will disavow technology based on this post. But I do hope someone will consider how 24-7 “noise” has caused a lack of real communication… with others and the Father. The stakes are high when the noise causes us not to hear.

Consider your pace, your quiet places and His still small voice. He still speaks!


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